Goldsboro Former Firehouses
 

The history of the Goldsboro Fire Department dates to the late 19th Century, when Goldsboro Fire Company No. 1 was organized in May 1881. Also active at that time was the Eclipse Fire Engine Company, which was organized several years earlier. Mary Alice, a third-class Silsby steam engine, was the primary piece of firefighting apparatus until the arrival of hose wagons after the installation of a municipal water system around 1885.

By the turn of the century, the Goldsboro Fire Department had 50 volunteers, a paid engineer, and three paid drivers. Apparatus included the steamer, a hook and ladder truck, two hose wagons, and two hand reels. Another chemical wagon, hose wagon, and hose reel were in reserve. Goldsboro's first motorized fire engine was delivered in 1913 and subsequent motor trucks were soon added in 1919 and 1923. The first full-time Fire Chief was hired in 1929, and the department was fully-paid by the 1930s.
 

Old Fire Station
202 East Walnut Street
Opened
by 1896 / Closed by 1901
Presently county office space

One of Goldsboro's earliest engine houses was located at 715 Walnut Street, now addressed 202 East Walnut Street.

Built by 1891, the two-story row building opened as a fire station by 1896. Within five years, the facility had closed and all fire companies were housed on nearby North John Street.

The Walnut Street building served a variety of purposes in the early twentieth century, including as a combination grocery store and beer bottling plant (by 1901), a sewing machine store (by 1908), and a furniture repair store (by 1911).

The 2,520 square-foot structure presently serves as office space for a county agency.

 

Old Station 2
209 East Vine Street
Built by 1918
 / Closed by 1928
Presently auto repair shop
 
Goldsboro's first Station 2 opened north of the city center on East Vine Street. Built by 1918, the two-story station first housed a horse-drawn hose wagon equipped with 700 feet of 2 1/2-inch hose.

That year, the fire department had nine paid men and 20 volunteers. One person was on duty at Station 2 at all times.

By 1928, the station had closed and all fire companies were housed at the Central Fire Station on North John Street.

By 1943, the Vine Street structure was serving as a National Guard armory.

Since the 1950s, the 2,442 square-foot facility has been used as an auto repair establishment.

 



Old Station 1
109 East Ash Street
Built 1939 / Closed 1976

Presently unoccupied
 
On April 5, 1939, a new Goldsboro Fire Department headquarters opened on East Ash Street.

The $50,000 facility was built as a WPA project and included a five-story training and bell tower in the rear.

With 12,063 square-feet, the Art Deco-designed station was nearly four times the size of the central fire station on North John Street.

Apparatus used during its decades of operation included American LaFrance, Mack, and Seagrave pumpers, a Mack service truck, and an American LaFrance aerial ladder.

The Goldsboro Rescue Squad also operated from the station. Formed in 1954, the volunteer organization assumed operation of a rescue unit that was placed in service one year earlier.

In 1976, the facility was closed when the department relocated to a joint fire and police municipal complex at 204 South Center Street.

The structure subsequently served a variety of functions including as an auto shop, a retail shop, and a residence.

Empty in recent years, the building was condemned in 2005 and slated for demolition in early 2006. After a successful petition drive and a last-minute sale, the historic structure was spared.

The new owners plan to restore the building.

 






Old Station 2
1615 East Beech Street
Built 1956
 / Closed 2000
Presently transportation facility

Rapid growth in the 1950s saw the opening of a new Station 2 on August 27, 1956. Located on the eastern side of the city, the new station was staffed by Company Four from the Ash Street station.

The $45,000 facility opened with two shifts of four men operating a 500 GPM pumper and a rescue unit. A 1000 GPM reserve pumper of pre-war vintage was also housed at the new station.

Though the city provided basic furnishings such as beds, linens, and kitchen equipment, a radio and television set were provided by the firefighters with money raised at various events.

In 2000, Station 2 was relocated to 1,900 Royall Avenue. The 3,795 square-foot structure presently serves as a Goldsboro-Wayne Transit Authority facility.

 



Other Early Fire Stations


Sanborn Insurance Map, July 1913

Other early fire department facilities include the first floor of the old Market House in the 100 block of East Ash Street. The first floor of the two-story structure was utilized as an engine house by 1885. A separate 50-foot combination bell and hose tower was located just east of the structure. The Market House was demolished before the end of the century. The original Central Fire Station at 127 North John Street was built by 1896. It first served as a hose house addressed 804 North John Street. The two-story structure was doubled in size by 1901. A bell tower was added in the rear of the structure by 1908, and a replacement steel bell tower was added by 1913. After the station was relocated to Ash Street in 1939, the John Street building was promptly sold. By 1950, the old station served as an auto parts store. It was subsequently demolished. East of the city's center, the community of Webtown was protected by the Electric Hose Reel Company. The fire company operated out of a hose house at 705 Slocomb Street by 1908. It closed by 1918 and the structure was demolished by 1924.

The Fire Bell

In January 1901, the first electric-telegraph fire alarm system was installed in Goldsboro. The Gamewell system was connected to a bell in a tower behind the Mayor's office on East Walnut Street. When activated, the bell tapped the numbers of the reporting fire box. In 1909, a new alarm bell was delivered. Cast in 1908 by the McNeely Bell Company of Troy, NY, the 2,000-pound gong was hung in a tower at the rear of Central Fire Station at 127 North John Street. When the fire department relocated to Ash Street in 1939, the bell was also moved to the new building. It continued to ring until 1952, when its worn mechanisms could no longer be replaced. After the fire department relocated to South Center Street in 1976, the bell was removed and placed in storage until an outdoor display stand was completed at the fire station in October 1977.

Map

References

Goldsboro Fire Department
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps via NC LIVE
Goldsboro insurance maps from 1885, 1891, 1896, 1901, 1908, 1913, 1918, 1924, and 1950 are available online. Access requires password available from your local library. After logging into NC LIVE, click Browse Resources and select Maps.

Wayne County Public Library
The North Carolina Collection was consulted for this article, notably vertical files of fire department information, early city directories on microfilm, and newspaper clippings on microfilm.

The Series

Charlotte
Durham
Fayetteville
Goldsboro
Greensboro
High Point
Kinston
New Bern
Raleigh
Rocky Mount / Wilson
Wilmington
Winston-Salem

Note

A version of this article was published on FireNews.net on August 2, 2006.

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